I got three different people asking me if I agreed with some recent posts by Michael Stackpole. Read his most recent post here.
My short answer is yes. Michael and I and Kris and a number of other writers who have the basic same attitudes came into this business at the same time and we have been talking with each other off and on for decades.
Almost all of us believe writers should take more control of their careers. And we have been pushing different aspects of this same topic in different ways for a number of years now, trying to clear out myths. For example, if you look back at the four Killing Sacred Cows of Publishing posts on Agents, I’ve basically been hammering home the one principle of writers taking control of things they should have control over. Laura Resnick has been saying the same thing in her wonderful comments after each chapter.
The basic is this: Take control over what you can take control over. Be smart in who you give control to. Try to keep as much control as possible. That applies to all aspects of this business.
Michael’s recent post about how you don’t have control in certain areas is correct. We cede that control to publishers in contracts, which is why contracts are so critically important. He’s trying to get writers to do two things. One, stop worrying about what you can’t control and two, take control of what you can control. Michael and I and Kris and others are taking control more and more over certain “publishing” aspects of our work because this wonderful new world has allowed us to.
But do we still sell into New York, sign contracts with publishers, and then hope for the best luck, as Michael says? Yes. Because Luck, or as I call it, “The X-Factor” has a huge play in some things. If you had your book come out on 9/11/01, you had some really bad luck. Stephanie Meyers had some really, really great luck. It happens. No control. Can’t get control in those areas, stop trying.
But as Michael says about ways of publishing, and Laura and I have been saying about the agent aspect of your business, you can and should gain as much real control as you can get.
I know how resistant writers can be about wanting to work. And gaining control takes work because first you have to learn how and then you actually have to do it. And worst yet, you have to climb past the myths and fear. That’s work, plain and simple.
But there is one secret that Michael alludes to and has talked about on his blog, and the one that I have shouted about, and Kris has talked about on her blog. One simple secret. Take as much control of everything as you can and NEVER STOP WRITING AND PUBLISHING.
You will make mistakes, learn from them and keep going. Your career will get hit with bad X-Factors(luck) at times, learn from the hits and keep going. Agents will hurt you because you let them, learn from the mistakes and keep going. Publishers will kill your book without meaning to in one way or another. Learn what you can and keep going.
Keep control where you can and when you do decide to cede it to another person or business, for heaven’s sake, be smart about it. In so many hundreds of thousands of words, that’s all we’re all saying.
So again, the short answer to the question “Do I agree with what Michael Stackpole is saying on his blog?”